Julio Cesar Chavez may not be a washed-up pay-per-view
draw, after all.
The former lightweight champion, whose boxing skills and
PPV marketability have slipped in recent years, was able to pull more than 300,000 buys
for his March 7 fight against Miguel Angel Gonzalez, surprising both operators and fight
distributor Showtime Event Television.
"We didn't know what to expect with Chavez,"
said Donovan Gordon, senior vice president of sales and affiliate marketing for SET.
Chavez's strong Hispanic following and his aggressive
boxing style made him one of the sport's biggest PPV draws in the mid-1990s, often
pulling buy-rates similar to those of heavyweight fighters. His career has waned over the
last two years, however. Most industry observers thought Chavez was finished after he lost
decisively to current welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya in June 1996.
But Gordon said Chavez's fight against Gonzalez, which
ended in a controversial draw, showed that the Mexican boxer still has his followers.
"Everyone has been saying that he's on the downhill side of his career, but it
shows that he still has a following," Gordon said.
Mitch Miller, director of marketing and PPV for Prime Cable
of Las Vegas, said the fight generated a surprising 1.5 percent buy-rate -- well over the
1 percent level that it was hoping for.
"We have a strong Hispanic market, and we marketed
heavily to them," Miller said.
"Chavez has always done well here, but there
isn't much else [in boxing]; there's a lot of interest among subscribers for a
good fight with a strong undercard," he added.
In other boxing news, Innovative Sports Marketing and Forum
Boxing will distribute a series of Hispanic-oriented fights via PPV beginning March 28,
said Doug Jacobs, partner for the company. The first event will feature flashy boxer Jorge
Paez, as well as former junior featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barerra. The event
will retail for $14.95.
Jacobs said the fight is being sold on a stand-alone basis
to operators, with Time Warner Cable of New York and Media General Cable of Fairfax
County, Va., already signed for distribution. U.S. Satellite Broadcasting will also
distribute the event, he said.
Also, TVKO will distribute a rare PPV heavyweight bout June
20 between former champion James "Buster" Douglas and Lou Savarese for around
The company, however, had to postpone its April 4 Genaro
Hernandez-Carlos Gerena PPV-fight card until May 16 due to an injury to Hernandez. The
undercard will still feature World Boxing Council super bantamweight champ Erik Morales,
and it will retail for $24.95.
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